“The island” is how locals refer to Presque Isle State Park, a peninsula north of town that juts out into Lake Superior. In the summer, you can find us jumping off of Black Rocks, or walking along the breakwall to the lighthouse. Presque Isle is such a shockingly beautiful place that even landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (one of the guys behind NYC’s Central Park) took one look at it in the summer of 1891 and advised the city to “touch nothing”.
The fall is for hikes through leafy woods, with glimpses of the lake as a backdrop. Spring (which is basically an otherwise miserable season in Marquette) brings some seriously epic storms — I remember driving out to the island to watch storms hit from the safety of the car.
But winter? Presque Isle in the winter is…magic.
In the winter, the road that rings the park (all two miles of it) is closed to cars. Which is fine — you wouldn’t want to drive it anyway.
But if you stick to the road, you’ll also miss my absolute favorite spots. The ones, of course, off-the-beaten path. The hidden gems.
Like the overlook found by hiking down an almost-hidden path, through a canopy of trees. It is, of course, beautiful in the summer, but positively magnificent in the winter.
There’s also a little pebbled beach perfect for skipping stones, or marveling at how thick the ice can grow on rock.
There are winter-only caves, made by the relentless crashing of waves as the water hits — and then freezes — on the trees growing along the cliffs. Once again, you’d never see this cave from the road, but it’s there. This particular spot was our favorite for even late afternoon hikes. On those days when the kids are driving you nuts, and mayyyybe you haven’t gotten an early enough start for a ‘real’ hike but you need to get the heck out of the house? Yeah?
But even if you do just go and wander around the woods, it’s not uncommon to come across a white-tailed deer, or find rows of pines, branches heavy with snow. And if there’s any younger trees about…try my boys’ favorite trick, and give them a little shake (it doesn’t take much).
There’s literally not one spot in this gorgeous park that we wouldn’t want to explore.
And after running these boys like dogs (my best sanity-saving trick of the decade)…we all sleep well at night.
We just gotta…ya know…get that Pax home.
Getting To Presque Isle Park
Presque Isle Park is just a few minutes from downtown Marquette, MI by car (or roughly three miles if biking or jogging). Follow Lake Shore Blvd north until you come to the park’s gates. Once you go through the gates, turn left to park closer to Sunset Point. The ice caves and the pebble beach are not far from from Sunset point.
Or, turn right, and park near the playground. The old-fashioned merry-go-round is my kids’ favorite. Hike up the short hill, then take the first left off of the road to find quiet, wooded paths, with (typically) lots of snow.
What To Wear Hiking Around Presque Isle In Winter
If you are lucky enough to be visiting right after a snowstorm, snowshoes would be helpful in the wooded areas. That said…we almost never wear snowshoes on Presque Isle, but we always wear snow boots to handle deep snow. Because of the wind off of Lake Superior, Presque Isle is usually cold. We typically dress like we do for skiing: base layers, snow pants, insulated parka, hat, mittens, neck warmer (one that can be pulled up over your face is best).
If we really want to enjoy our time, I also frequently use those hot hands (and toe warmers) for the boys. I recently invested in (stupidly expensive) heated mittens, and they are 110% worth the cost. A total game-changer for someone who loves to play outside all winter but hates to be cold. (If interested, take 15% off with code THEMOMEDIT.)
Jacket (xs) – more sizes here | snowpants (small, short length) | baselayer top (xs) | baselayer bottom (xs) | turtleneck sweater (s) | boots | thin wool socks | heated mittens (take 15% off with code THEMOMEDIT) | hat
Cheers to more outdoor exploring this winter.
Oh hey, Pinners…